Scotland Under-21s got their Euro 2021 qualifying campaign off to a trouble-free start as they cruised to a 2-0 win over San Marino in Paisley.
Visiting defender Alessandro Tosi put Scotland in front when he fired into his own net midway through the first half.
Glenn Middleton then quickly added the second as Scot Gemmill’s side sealed three comfortable points.
But the Scots will face a tougher task on Tuesday as they travel to Croatia for the second stop on the road to Hungary and Slovenia. Scotland’s youngsters have not qualified for a major finals since 1996 but victory in Pula next week would raise hopes of ending that long wait.
Minnows San Marino were never going to trouble the hosts too much at the Simple Digital Arena as they refused to budge from their densely-packed shape.
It was one-way traffic from the off and only a matter of time before the Scots made the breakthrough.
Jordan Holsgrove and Allan Campbell opened up the space Scotland were searching for with a clever one-two outside the box. But it was left-back Tosi who was left red-faced as he threw out a right foot in an attempt to stop Reading winger Holsgrove’s low cross, the ball skidding off his boot before flying into the top corner.
Middleton missed a great chance to make it two in the 26th minute as he slotted wide at the near post.
But the Rangers player – currently on loan at Hibernian – did not let his head drop and got his goal two minutes later. Lewis Ferguson sent local favourite Kyle Magennis down the line and the St Mirren winger, filling in at right-back but given licence to bomb forward, saw his cutback almost steered home by Campbell. Visiting keeper Mirco De Angelis parried the Motherwell midfielder’s effort but was helpless as Middleton prodded home the rebound.
Connor McLennan was guilty of an awful miss as he headed over from point-blank range just before half-time.
Holsgrove at least tested the keeper as he drove at goal just after the break while Middleton came close with a header.
With Gemmill’s youngsters content to canter on in second gear the visitors clung on for the full-time whistle without suffering further damage.
l Scotland Under-19s drew 1-1 with Japan in a friendly match in Murcia, Spain, yesterday.
Shingo Omori gave Japan a half-time lead before Kyle Joseph equalised after 65 minutes.